On This Day

The Day Myanmar Officially Adopted Its National Anthem

By Wei Yan Aung 22 September 2020

YANGON—On this day in 1947, the national anthem of Myanmar was approved by the national legislature. As a country that would gain independence the following year, Myanmar needed to prepare a state flag, emblem and national anthem for inclusion in its constitution as an independent nation. A committee consisting of Bamar, Kachin, Chin, Karen, Shan and Rakhine ethnic political leaders, men of letters and artists was formed to complete the task.

The Parliament set out a guideline that the anthem must be acceptable to all ethnic groups; have lyrics and a melody that are extraordinarily rousing to all ethnic groups; different from contemporary music; and between 1 minute, 30 seconds and 2 minutes long.

The music for the national anthem was adapted from “Dobama Song”, which was originally composed for the Dobama Asiayone, or We Burmans Association, by artist YMBA Saya Tin, and was regarded as Myanmar’s first patriotic song during British colonial rule and Japanese rule.

Lyrics that suited the notion of a Union were composed for the new anthem, and finally “Kaba Ma Kyei”, or “Till the End of the World”, was adopted. At the time, India and Pakistan had not yet approved their national anthems.

New state flags and emblems were later adopted under the reigns of military dictators generals Ne Win and Than Shwe, but the national anthem was never changed. The National Anthem Law enacted in 2010 criminalized acts of disrespect toward the national anthem, singing it ignobly in whole or in part, recomposing the anthem, or falsely presenting another song as the national anthem.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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